Winter at Farewell Harbour Lodge
Meet Cecil and Marisa, our winter caretakers
| Cecil and Marisa live on Amber IV, their steel 41-foot sailboat during the winter, moored to the floating dock at Farewell Harbour Lodge. We thought it would be nice to shed light on a small piece of their lives on Berry Island in the winter, and I must say, the story is quite charming.
Cecil and Marisa have varied backgrounds and skillsets. Fifteen years ago, they made the leap from living in their own home in Sidney, BC (near Victoria) to living full time aboard their sailboat with their two sons. Marisa worked in the service industry - "everything from bartender to finally working as a chef and owning a restaurant." Cecil has a background in graphic art and design. Still, as Marisa puts it, "as anyone knows, artists usually pick up a plethora of other skills and trades along the way to pay the bills and actualize financial goals." So the two of them are well prepared to face anything this hardy lifestyle throws at them.
They began their caretaking journey on Gilford Island, but they realized that this wasn't quite the right fit for them after one season. Soon after, through a friend who's also a caretaker on Swanson Island, they heard of the opening at Farewell Harbour Lodge. After meeting with Tim and Kelli over the phone, they accepted the position and have thought of Farewell Harbour as their winter home for the last four years. Their caretaking duties vary from monitoring the property to protecting water lines from winter freeze to keeping the generators purring. Apart from these duties, Cecil and Marisa enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the job.
When I spoke with Cecil and Marisa about writing this piece, my first burning question, which I'm sure you're also all wondering, was, what do you do with all that time? As Cecil put it, "the easiest answer is: nothing!" But after our chat, I'm not so sure that's the case. Their winter home sounds like not only a breath of fresh air to clear the mind and soul but also a petri dish for musical genius and creativity. Marisa wrote back to me saying, "Daily life here at Farewell in the off-season is quiet and tranquil for the most part. I love to read, write letters, and work on various art projects. Cecil and I play music, although my skills and confidence are lacking when it comes to my banjo pursuits. You'll never see me auditioning for Simon Cowell! I am an avid beachcomber and bird watcher. When I am not on the boat, I usually play in the woods or find a new log to plunk myself down on and meditate." Meanwhile, it sounds like Cecil is a devoted tinkerer of all things boat-related. Whether it be regular maintenance or repairs, he says, "we're in a harsh marine environment 100% of the time, so whatever she dishes out, we live through it!"
Cecil and Marisa feel so lucky to call this amazing stretch of coastline their home waters. Although the weather isn't always quiet and calm, they're well prepared to deal with adversity. In their words, "not everyone could live here in the isolation as we do, but we also know how fortunate we are to be working for the McGrady and Brockway families. Not all property owners are as generous and mindful of the comfort of their caretakers."
Thanks to Cecil and Marisa for sharing this insight into their winter lives. Their behind-the-scenes work is crucial to the lodge operation and cannot be overstated. They take great care of the property, and we're all very thankful.
-- by Sylvie Stewart Grantham
Past Blog Posts
Jan 14, 2022
Rainforest EcologyJoin us on an imaginary journey into the Great Bear Rainforest, and maybe along the way you'll learn some ecology!
Jan 3, 2022
Reflecting on 2021Winter is the time of year when we reflect on the past before looking ahead.
Dec 13, 2021
Winter at Farewell Harbour LodgeMeet Cecil and Marisa, our winter caretakers, and get a glimpse into their winter life at Farewell Harbour Lodge.
May 1, 2021
Wildlife Guide - BearsWe put together a quick, easy guide to help you better understand what to expect when you go bear viewing with Farewell Harbour Lodge!
Apr 24, 2021
Farewell Kitchen - Paul's CioppinoWe uncovered a recipe from the past and had to share it with you! Enjoy with a crisp white wine in the sunshine!
Apr 19, 2021
Top Tips for Photography at Farewell HarbourWe are lucky to have some very talented friends, who also happen to be professional photographers! We asked them for some of their top tips!
Apr 10, 2021
Wildlife Guide - WhalesFind out more about whale watching in the Broughton Archipelago, from what you should bring with you to the best time of year to visit!
Mar 24, 2021
The Rest of the StoryThere are many stories that came together for Farewell Harbour Lodge to be where it is now. Ryne Brockway, co-owner and friend, tells us his.
Mar 11, 2021
Sweet Potato CookiesChef Robyn's easy and delicious sweet potato cookie recipe! Perfect for a boost of energy when out on the trails or just need a little pick me up.
Mar 2, 2021
Staying Jung on Berry IslandHave you ever taken a personality test? We talk about how MBTI is used to create better working relationships and strong connections.
Feb 25, 2021
Engage all your sensesThere are many ways in which we find escape. We look at how engaging all of your senses can help to switch off the outside pressures in a more mindful way.
Feb 11, 2021
A Love StoryTim tells us a Valentines Day story of how he and Kelli met and fell in love on this wild west coast.
Feb 2, 2021
The Forest Floor with MarlieOur rainforests are home to so much life! One of our guides, Marlie, helps us to notice the smaller things that are vital to its survival.
Jan 27, 2021
Going, going, SCONE!One of our guests' all time favourites! We get asked for this recipe more than any other, so here it is to enjoy from home.
Jan 17, 2021
A different perspectiveA wonderful way to see more of the vast landscape is by air! Read about one morning we took to the skies and experienced everything from mountain tops to sandy beaches.
Dec 21, 2020
Sea Kayaking with BeccaOne of our kayak guides, Becca, tells us why this is her favourite way to get even closer to nature and experience the Broughton Archipelago at its best.
Dec 18, 2020
Sointula - Place of Harmony on Malcolm IslandThings to do in Sointula! Full day excursions to Sointula and Malcolm Island. Pioneer history, whale rubbing beaches, historic lighthouse and more!
Nov 1, 2020
Differences between black bears and grizzliesA few things to look out for when bear viewing with our guides at Farewell Harbour. We look at some of the main differences between black bears and grizzlies.